'Inseparable, Bonded' Lion Couple at Chicago Zoo Dies Days Apart

Zenda the male lion was euthanized on Jan. 2, and his mate Isis died less than two weeks later on Jan. 14.

Brookfield Zoo Animals
Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty

“The new year has begun on a very sad note at Brookfield Zoo,” the Chicago zoo shared on their website on Tuesday.

“We have had to announce the passing of our male and female African lions, Zenda and Isis. They would have turned 14 and 15 this year, respectively,” the facility added.

According to the zoo, the “inseparable bonded” pair, who both arrived at the zoo in 2008, died within days of each other. Male lion Zenda was euthanized on Jan. 2 and lioness Isis died on Jan. 13.

“Just before this past Christmas, animal care staff observed Zenda having difficulty standing and walking. Veterinarians had been treating his symptoms with medication to help ease the pain. However, on January 2, his well-being declined dramatically and the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize him,” the zoo explained, adding that a necropsy revealed that the male lion had several inoperable degenerative discs in his spine that had ruptured.

Following Zenda’s death, Isis, who was the first lioness at Brookfield Zoo in 15 year when she arrived, seemed in fair health. Unfortunately, on Jan 13., she was “observed laying on the floor of the moat in the lion habitat. Although not witnessed, it appears that she fell and was injured.”

Isis’ caretakers immediately went to work treating the lioness’ injuries, but found they were too “significant” to treat fully. The zoo’s team of caretakers eventually made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Isis.

Brookfield Zoo Animals
Raymond Boyd/Getty

“The safety and well-being of the animals in our care is our utmost priority. Although it is unclear what caused her fall, we are reviewing all aspects of this tragic occurrence,” Brookfield Zoo wrote on Facebook following the incident.

The zoo also added, on their website, that this heartbreaking time has been made easier by “the outpouring of kind words and memories shared by guests and members” about Isis and Zenda.

The lion couple is remembered for their protective and devoted bond to one another, which included plenty of grooming and cuddly naps, and their charismatic personalities.

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